On this day, we mark 70 years since President Eisenhower denied Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's first bid for executive clemency on Feb 11th, 1953. It was one of the first decisions Eisenhower faced in his time as president after the outgoing President Truman declined to respond before leaving office.
Despite massive protests taking place around the world to spare their lives, Eisenhower refused their petition. Records show that not only was President Eisenhower convinced of their guilt, he appears to agree with Judge Kaufman's assessment that the pair played a role in exacerbating the conditions that led to the Korean War, stating:
"The nature of the crime for which they have been found guilty and sentenced far exceeds that of the taking of the life of another citizen; it involves the deliberate betrayal of the entire nation and could very well result in the death of many, many thousands of innocent citizens [in Korea]…"
Seventy years later, we know now that neither Ethel nor Julius Rosenberg stole the secret of the atomic bomb, and FBI files made public many years later indicated that Ethel was not a spy and was only arrested to use as a “lever” to coerce Julius to cooperate. Sadly, the myth that Ethel and Julius were atomic spies persists, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Learn more about the Rosenberg Case here: https://www.rfc.org/rosenberg-case/case-summary